Laser vaporizes
urinary tract stones

Patients with painful urinary tract stones now are being treated at the Health Science Center with a high-tech laser which apparently turns up the heat on the stones and vaporizes them.

Urology researchers headed by Joel Teichman, MD, assistant professor of surgery at the Health Science Center, compared two new methods of lithotripsy, a term for the various methods of treating urinary tract stones. One method, called electrohydraulic lithotripsy, disintegrates the stones into particles that can be passed in the urine. The second method, employing the laser, appears to vaporize the stones rather than fragment them. Both methods involve a procedure known as endoscopy, avoiding incisions to reach the stones.

The researchers examined outcomes from 23 patients who underwent electrohydraulic lithotripsy and 47 who had laser lithotripsy. Each patient was examined after three months for stone recurrence. Dr. Teichman and his colleagues concluded the laser method is at least as effective as the electrohydraulic method for rendering patients stone-free and is faster and more effective at ridding patients of larger stones that previously have been difficult to treat.

In a second study, the urologists assessed the value of the laser in treating large bladder stones, especially as a last resort to avoid a procedure that involves a larger surgical incision. Again, they reported favorable results for the laser.


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